Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) & Byzantium (2012) Reviews

Saw these two together after really wanting to see them for ages. I was massively disappointed. Here are two quickie reviews…

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Directed & Written by Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring. I’d really been wanting to watch it because I find Tilda Swinton interesting, Mia Wasikowska has been pretty decent in things like Stoker, and I always really liked sweet Anton Yelchin (RIP). Hiddleston is okay – I can take him or leave him. Oh! And John Hurt (RIP)! Hurt was awesome (I did a list not too long ago of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies. Luckily, I don’t have to update that list to add Only Lovers Left Alive).

Anyway, Hurt was great in this – he was the best part of the film (for me). Swinton was also fun to watch. I usually like her a lot but, sometimes, she annoys me (like in Okja). Mysterious vampire is the perfect kind of role for her, though, so she was good in this. I suppose Hiddleston did well with the role but all he did was mope the whole damn time. How did Swinton’s character put up with that mopey bastards for hundreds of years (or thousands, maybe – I don’t remember)? If I want mopey “teen-angsty” vampires, I’ll watch Twilight. Can’t vampires be happy?! They’re immortal! That’s cool, isn’t it? Grumpy fuckers. Or is that grumpy suckers? This movie just reinforces my opinion that The Lost Boys is the best vampire movie ever. 😉

Um. What else? I’m bored. Review over! Just so you know, nothing happens in this movie. Hiddleston mopes. Swinton puts up with his moping. Wasikowska is a total bitch who stays with mopey Hiddleston & big sis Swinton for a while, which makes Hiddleston mope even more. Yelchin (the only non-vampire) and Hurt (a dying vampire – I can’t remember how that’s possible and I don’t care) were good and helped to make the movie slightly watchable. Without them… Meh. A movie having no plot is okay as long as you have really great characters (like in Dazed And Confused) and a movie with lacklustre characters is okay as long as you have a great story (like in Circle). Only Lovers Left Alive lacks both a good plot and good characters. But it has a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDb so what the hell do I know?!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Byzantium (2012)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring as well. I actually slightly preferred Only Lovers Left Alive because at least that movie had a bit more style & better actors. To be fair, I watched these movies back to back while cleaning the house so I wasn’t exactly paying full attention. But if they’d actually been GOOD, I’d have stopped doing the housework and sat down to watch them properly. Thanks to Byzantium, I now have a very organized bookshelf.

Let’s see… What do I vaguely recall from this movie? I recall hating Gemma Arterton’s annoying accent. I’m terrible with accents so don’t know if she was doing it well or not but it was like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe I just don’t like her… I don’t think I’ve seen her in much but the quality of her acting in this film certainly didn’t impress me. Saoirse Ronan was far better in this film – I usually like her okay and she’s the best thing about this movie.

Er. You know, I honestly can’t remember much of this movie now. Lots of blood. It was a far more bloody vampire movie than Only Lovers Left Alive. More bloody, shittier acting, an actual plot but one that I can barely remember now, less moping but still pretty mopey overall (seriously – cheer the fuck up, vampires!), and no John Hurt or anyone with true star power to help elevate the film. Oh, I now recall that all the first vampires were men & they didn’t want any to be women but then Arterton became the first female vampire (if I remember right). So there’s a bit of a “girl vampire power” thing going on in the film, which was okay but kind of undone by all the terrible treatment of the women in the movie. And I still don’t like Arterton.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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T2 Trainspotting (2017) Review

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Based on Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
20 years after the previous film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this sequel more than I thought I would and it was better than I expected. It’s interesting that just last week I reviewed The Hustler (1961) and its sequel The Color Of Money (1986). It doesn’t always work to revisit characters with films that are 20+ years apart. However, in the case of both The Color Of Money & T2, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing what our much older characters are now up to and I don’t think either film ruined its (admittedly superior) predecessor.

Let’s face it – the Trainspotting sequel was never going to be better than the original. Trainspotting was so of its time and it captured a mood, time & place in a way I don’t think could ever be replicated now. All I wanted was a sequel that wasn’t embarrassing & didn’t ruin the characters as we remember them and I think Danny Boyle has managed to deliver this to Trainspotting fans. I’ve actually been extremely disappointed with some of his films I’ve watched lately (Trance, Slumdog Millionaire) so am very happy to say that this sequel met & even exceeded my expectations. I still like these characters. (Other than Begbie, of course… What an asshole!)

I really like the first film and think it deserves its acclaim for being something quite unique. When I first saw it years ago, it was when I was first starting to really get into films and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before (and probably one of the most shocking I’d seen at that point in my life). I was also still in America at that point so I suppose it was very foreign to me as well. I’ve only watched it once more since (just after moving to the UK over a decade ago) so, while I think it’s a very good film, I’m not one of its obsessive fans and had even forgotten bits & pieces of it. More than anything, it was the soundtrack from the original that stuck with me (Excellent soundtrack!). I probably could’ve done with re-watching the first before the sequel but, with the help of some flashbacks which I thought were well done, it filled in a few blanks in my mind.

My point is this: I’m no expert or obsessive Trainspotting fan and I’ve never read the books so I don’t feel very qualified in reviewing this sequel. I know I personally enjoyed it and it was great revisiting the characters and seeing them together again (especially Renton & Spud. I’d forgotten how likable Spud was – he’s easily my favorite character in the sequel). This is a more grown-up film and certainly not as intense as the original but it feels “right“. These guys are 20 years older – they’re not going to be exactly the same. However, they still stay true to their characters and, though older and supposedly wiser, still make bad decisions and mistakes.

Immediately after watching this, I was mostly curious what fellow blogger Mark of Marked Movies thought of it as I know he’s a big fan of the original (and he’s from Scotland, I should add). He kindly reviewed the original a couple of years ago for my IMDB Top 250 Project HERE (Thanks again, Mark!). I figure that his opinion on this sequel is far more relevant than mine so, if you’d also like the opinion of a big Trainspotting fan, you can read his review of the sequel HERE. It looks like we both feel quite similar about the sequel so Boyle seems to have done a good job keeping loyal fans (as well as casual fans such as myself) happy. Oh yeah – The soundtrack is also okay but it’s not as awesome as the first film’s!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trainspotting (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He’s also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE) and The Big Lebowski (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Trainspotting, IMDB rank 151 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenplay: John Hodge.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly MacDonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Shirley Henderson, Pauline Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Keith Allen, Kevin Allen, Dale Winton, Irvine Welsh.

Director Danny Boyle’s marvellous debut “Shallow Grave” was always going to be a hard act to follow but to attempt an adaptation of the ‘unfilmable’ Scottish novel “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh, seemed like lunacy. Boyle, however, captures Welsh’s book brilliantly and despite “Slumdog Millionaire” gathering him a best director Oscar, this still remains his best film.

It follows the lives of a group of friends from Edinburgh as they experience the high’s and low’s of life through heroin use. Renton (Ewan McGregor) decides to go clean and rid himself of his affliction and his low-life chums but finds that’s easier said than done. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is too needy, SickBoy (Jonny Lee Miller) is too controling, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) has just taken some bad direction and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is just plain pychotic. Renton, however, enters into making a one off drug deal with his old pals, so as to make a new life for himself altogether.

Boyle’s film has often been criticised as glorifying drug use. Glorifying drug use? Really? People who believe this must have been watching a different film. The characters involved all behave despicably. They are responsible for thefts, fights, deaths – including the death of a baby. Get imprisoned. Contract HIV. Ruin their lives and others’, all because of their drug habit. What this film has in depth, vibrancy and fun, is the reason it could be mistaken for being pro-drug use but having these qualities is more of a testament to the filmmakers involved, in making a bleak and depressing subject matter, very entertaining. The characters are extremely well written (kudos to writer Welsh) and acted by an ensemble of excellent actors. It made a star of Ewan McGregor, who’s character, although likeable – and brilliantly played – is essentially the person responsible for the downfall of many of the other characters. Notable other performances are Ewen Bremner as “Spud”, the most endearing of the group and a character too gentle for his lifestyle. The best of the bunch though, is Robert Carlyle as the psychotic “Begbie”, who’s choice of drug isn’t heroin but violence – and he’s just as destructive with it. He’s a dangerous and highly volatile person and Carlyle perfectly captures the on-edge feeling of his terrifying unpredictability. It’s an award worthy performance that was sadly overlooked. Everything about the film reeks of class. From it’s rollicking soundtrack, to the rich, snappy dialogue, with great characters in hilarious situations and kinetic fast paced direction. This film has everything going for it and stands as one of the finest films of the 1990′s.

A relentlessly energetic experience that leaves you craving for more, much like the habit of it’s protaganists.
Pure uncut, Class A.

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Mark Walker

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